Teenager who was sexually assaulted multiple times ends her own life after requesting legal euthanasia

Noa Pothoven had been repeatedly re-admitted to hospital to try and treat her post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anorexia

Wednesday 05 June 2019 15:18 BST
Teenager who was sexually assaulted multiple times ends her own life through legal euthanasia

A 17-year-old girl who was raped as a child has been allowed to die in the Netherlands after speaking of her “unbearable suffering” and having previously asked doctors to assist in her death.

Noa Pothoven from Arnhem in the eastern part of the country died on Sunday in bed at home.

The teenager had been attacked and sexually assaulted on multiple occasions, the first when she was 11-years-old. She was reportedly raped when she was 14.

Subsequently, she suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anorexia.

Her autobiography Winning or Learning was about her struggle to cope with the attacks.

Writing about her decision to end her life on a social media last week, she said: “I deliberated for quite a while whether or not I should share this, but decided to do it anyway. Maybe this comes as a surprise to some, given my posts about hospitalisation, but my plan has been there for a long time and is not impulsive.

“I will get straight to the point: within a maximum of 10 days I will die. After years of battling and fighting, I am drained. I have quit eating and drinking for a while now, and after many discussions and evaluations, it was decided to let me go because my suffering is unbearable.”

After she approached a euthanasia clinic without her parents’ knowledge, they sought additional medical help for her, they told the Gelderlander newspaper in December.

They learned of her plans when her mother found letters to the family in a folder in her bedroom.

She had been admitted to three youth care facilities in recent years in repeated efforts to treat her anorexia and depression. Eventually she had to undergo tube feeding in a hospital for a year.

In the Netherlands children as young as 12 can legally be granted euthanasia, but only after a doctor concludes the patient's suffering is unbearable with no end in sight.

In 2017, 6,585 people chose to end their lives through euthanasia in the country, representing about 4.4 per cent of the total number of registered deaths.

All cases are strictly monitored by the Regional Euthanasia Review Committee.

Clarification: The original version of this story stated that Pothoven’s death was a result of legal euthanasia. However, it is unclear whether medical staff assisted her death and The Independent is seeking further information. 05/06/19

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